Chills and Maybe Even Hope



Once, a very long time ago when I was a child, I came home and found my father watching a horror movie.

I couldn’t watch, being too young, and remember being resentful about it so I asked “why do you watch those?” His answer was “it’s exciting and I get to still alive at the end”.

It took me years to parse out what that meant. I’ve been thinking of it a lot, particularly with the release of my second novel, “Pack” which is about werewolves. Either in very direct or very polite, indirect ways I get asked the question a lot, “why do you write about this stuff?” I just got asked that question in a recent interview the other day.

I could write a LOT of words in answer to that question but I recently came across a gentleman who did it very well for me. His name is Rev. Peter Laws and he’s a pastor and life long horror fan and has written a book I very much recommend called “The Frightners” which, coincidentally, I may have blurbed and is coming out September 4th via my publisher, Skyhorse.

In the final pages of the book, Laws (who’s YouTube channel is a lot of fun if you’re a horror fan), Laws lays it on front street. In the book, he’s taken a tour of the Capuchin Crypt in Rome and has just encountered a piece of art made of bone dubbed “Sister Death” which Laws uses as a stand in for our own mortality. From the book:

“We could ignore her. That’s an option many people take. But we’re not the type to turn away. Instead, we’ve come up with a genius plan. We’ve invented ways to play with her. We take a deep breath and we dive right in. We turn down the lights and tell tales of monsters, ghouls, death and gore. It helps us organise our fears, our hopes, or curiosities, and what we’re left with is fun and adventure. And sometimes Sister Death even drops strange little hints. That maybe hers won’t be the last face we’ll see after all. Which gives us chills…but maybe even hope. 

I love that.

For me, that’s largely the answer as well though I’d throw in a little bit of “genre fiction often has really interesting ideas that go unrecognized” or “people under extreme pressure act in extreme ways” but you get the idea.

In other words, horror and thriller stories are exciting and at the end you still get to be alive. Who wouldn’t want that?

Panic! But In A Good Way!


I’ve written 10,000 words or so in the past 4 days.

That’s a pretty solid run for me and yeah, I’m bragging a little bit. I’m also writing out of fear and I want to talk a little bit about that.

When I wrote my first novel, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing and inspiration kind of happened in the moment. All well and good. With my second novel I was in a groove but I had to stop on occasion to deal with lulls. That happens, too.

Then I hit a period where I wasn’t writing anything. I was still thinking about writing and still wanting to, but time and, to be frank, motivation got in the way. There was always something else to prioritize and I went about six months without writing. Not good, so I reworked some habits and made writing part of the routine.

Then, a couple days ago (in a Barnes & Noble store, none the less), inspiration struck.

When we got home I spent an hour when I should have been hanging out with my wife feverishly taking notes. I’ve pulled over to the side of the road once to make a note on this story. I’ve gotten up early the past few days and taken every spare moment I could to write and I’m doing this out of fear.

I’m afraid the inspiration is going to go away.

I don’t want to make this sound spiritual at all. “Inspiration” in this case is nothing more than “I had an idea” and “I want to get it written” and, if I wanted to, I could work hard on one of the many ideas I’ve already had. What I think is happening is I’m riding a wave of productivity spurred on by really wanting to get something done and see how this story I’m writing will play out.

I’m sort of panicking because I don’t know how much longer my brain is going to allow me to go crazy like this and I’m curious if other writers have bursts of productivity like this. From what I’ve seen, everyone is different and some folks definitely report something like this happening.

I’m hopping that when I come out of this I can take some sort of wider lesson about how writing while also being a busy person works. Until then I’m going to post this, have a cup of coffee and get back to work.

Call To Arms – Write Something


Warning – I get a bit personal in this post so if you’re interested in some of my writing I’ve got a freebie for you – a gross little short story underneath this post about a food truck and a severed body part. It’s kind of a nasty little piece so…you know…if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing you won’t be disappointed. OK, onto the post.

I’ve gotten a few lousy reviews lately. 

That’s OK. This is only the mildest of complaint and not really a complaint if you spin it the right way. To be honest, while it stings a bit because I’ve sunk dozens and dozens of hours into a story I think is worth telling only to have folks disagree with me, my overall philosophy is “shoot, I’ll get you next time.” Plus, I’ve noticed by reading a lot of reviews of my first novel that people experience art very differently. I stopped putting a lot of emotional stock in reviews when a couple commenters dinged “FantasticLand” for not having any rape in it. 

That being said some of the bad reviews were from people I wanted to impress (I’m looking at you, Emily) so I went through a surprisingly rough night where my brain, which can be a bit of an asshole on occasion, had me convinced I had squandered my opportunities and essentially ended my writing career. Most writers deal with this sort of thing on occasion and my flavor has always been “imposter syndrome” so one critic saying she didn’t understand how anyone could give my book “Pack” a positive review is more than enough to do it.

Why bring this up on the day my second novel is officially put out into the world? Because I wrote a second novel a couple of critics hated and that’s a reason enough for me to celebrate. Because I wrote a second novel and it’s released today!

I know this smacks of the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset that everyone hates but that’s not quite what I’m getting at. For those of you who don’t know, I write novels in the nooks and crannies of my life – at the gym while my kid is in gymnastics, in the car when my kid is at piano, early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays. I have an iPad with a keyboard attachment and pride myself on writing anywhere and at any time, pounding out a thousand words while mechanics change the oil in my car. That’s how I work and it’s how I have to work because I have a wickedly busy life and writing isn’t my main source of income, not by a long shot. It’s how I unwind, how I get through the day sometimes, how I vent frustration, how I feel accomplished, how I keep my brain from being the asshole it can sometimes be. In short, writing is the art that keeps me sane. 

If you’re like me, you know what I’m talking about. You might have a job that pays the bills adult requirements that seem to come at you from all sides but you also play music or you act or you scrapbook or you paint or you want to do some of those things and if I have anything of value to tell you (other than a good story now and again) it’s to encourage you, with all my voice and brain and heart, to GO DO THAT THING! Buy a paint set. Start that Instagram account for your cat. Draw. Start that blog. Livestream your video games. I don’t care what you do but DO IT because while it might never be your financial escape from your adult life can be that thing that makes your life better, richer, happier. 

I know a creative guy, a guy with a lot of passion and talent that I’m not going to name and I heard him say something once that broke my heart. He was asked how he was and he said “I spend all my time at work waiting to go home and spend all my time at home waiting to go to work.” This man is capable of art, I know it, but he chooses not to. How tragic. How desperate. How hopeless. I would rather live a life where everyone hated something I did then to never have never put anything out there and I have a second novel coming out so I’ve proven to myself that I will never be that kind of person and that’s worth feeling good about. 

On the occasion of “Pack” coming out (now available at Barnes and Noble, audible.com and online everywhere) I want to say “thank you” for supporting what I do. It means so much to me, but I’d do it even if you didn’t buy the books. I’d do it because I want to put something out there and Iv’e done it and while it would have been awesome if certain reviewers had gotten a kick out of “Pack”, it’s not the end of the world. Far from it because my book is out and that’s always going to be something I did. Always. 

Let me know when you “make your thing”. I’d love to support you. Now, onto that gross little short story I promised. Seriously, it’s kind of gross but, hey, I like it.